Rock and Hard Place

“As far as prisons go, this isn’t bad at all.”
Jenkins looked around, where his entire landing party sat, stood, and lay. He stood in a decently sized room with what he assumed was a connecting washroom behind it. The cots seemed clean, the food seemed unpoisoned, and his men seemed healthy. Things seemed okay.
“Captain, doesn’t matter what it looks like. Prison is prison, and we have to break out,” voiced Fry. “I’m awfully suspicious of this whole deal, and the sooner we can get back to our ship and far away, the better. Ah, of course, it’s entirely your decision,” he finished, with a subservient look in his eye.
Jenkins ate another grape-like fruit. He savored it flavor while he spun to address his second mate.
“Fry, since I’ve known you from the Academy, you’ve never liked being locked up, whether in the brig, or in your room for your own safety. Regardless, you are correct. It is my decision, and we are staying here.” This elicited a mixture of relief and ire from the four other men in the room. “Until then, we wait.”
The door creaked as the guard let Fabius in, who hastily came through as the door closed right behind him.
“Good news, I hope?”
“Not so,” Fabius responded, with much apparent concern. “The Emperor, of course, wishes to relay his apologies, especially to such a new guest. Unfortunately, he can give no time for your expected release. I shouldn’t be surprised if you were to be held here for several weeks.”
“Weeks!” one seamen exclaimed. He jumped up from his cot with an angry look. “We’ve got a ship sitting out there waiting for us! Who knows what they might do in weeks! I certainly don’t want to get stranded on this god-forsaken island.”
“I can understand your concern, but that’s all I can tell you. As much as I sympathize with your predicament, I do have my allegiance to Atlantis, and you are simply a hazard.” He glanced over at Jenkins. “Sir, I hope you aren’t offended by my behavior. Now, I must leave. You are welcome to enjoy your accommodations here. If you should need any entertainment or food, simply make a request to the guards. One will address your concerns quickly. Ah, and don’t think of escaping. Obviously, the guards can hear your every noise.” He bowed, knocked on the door, and made his way out.
Everyone sat quietly for a moment, when a storm of outbursts began.
“This is an outrage, Captain!”
“Who in the world is he trying to fool. These Atl-“
“Bollocks!”
Jenkins let the storm run its course, walking over to the window where the guard stood for his request. In a moment, the guard returned with a stick, and Jenkins took it, and walked over to the middle of the room, where he wrote into the sand,
“ESCAPE PLAN”

The World Today

Jenkins looked over a Fabius, who simply shrugged.
He took a deep breath, then stood with confidence. No worse way to make an impression than look weak, he thought.
“Honorable senators, please forgive me, but I was not warned in advance that I would need to talk. I will be down shortly.” He finished with a short bow, then leapt off the balcony onto the floor below.
His bravado elicited several gasps as he landed gracefully on the ground. Several senators, unsure of what else this apparent madman might do, cleared a path for him to the podium, where Agrippa stood with a smile and arm out.
“As you might have heard,” Jenkins began as he leapfrogged the podium, “the British Empire today dominates a solid part of the world. Under her majesty’s leadership, the Empire is quickly growing in strength and ability.
“While your history books might name the so-called ‘Brittania’ a land of druidic savages, we’ve developed far beyond our humble beginnings. Through might and will, we now control almost a quarter of the known world. Even beyond our holdings, we hold great sway. Had we wished it, the United States may today be 2 nations. We might have an Oriental Trading Company to dominate China, and exploit it for all its known resources. We can have what we want.
“Which, of course, brings us back to you. According to what I’ve heard so far, you have technology exploiting this so-called ‘ether’, and the resources to continue that. Only recently, British engineers have also made similar technological exploits.
“And you know that what you have is priceless. So priceless that the Empire will have no choice but to dominate you, either economically or, if that doesn’t work, militarily. Simply know that if you choose to oppose the Empire, you will be crushed. I suggest you do otherwise.”
Jenkins strutted out the doors, enjoying the frightened look of senators he passed.

Fabius caught up to Jenkins in the market, where a vast array of goods exchanged hands.
“Excellent place, you have here. Some of the local fruits are absolutely delightful. And all for free! You wouldn’t imagine the shock of the vendors when I asked on price.” Jenkins reached over for another grape-like fruit, and popped it in his mouth with much satisfaction.
“Yes, wonderful,” Fabius put out between breaths. “Unfortunately, there’s no time to discuss this. You and your men must leave immediately. The senate has-“
“Decided that the Empire is to be feared?” Jenkins laughed proudly. “And so it should be.”
“No. They’ve decided that the world is too dangerous to be left as opposition to Atlantis. They’ve ordered all foreigners on the island temporarily held, and have requested the construction of an entire navy, equipped with etheric cannons.”

(Author’s Note: I guess it’d be too much to ask for comments on story development so far, eh?”)

Politics are for Losers

Jenkins snuck into the top row of the forum, far above any Senators.
“That’s Senator Gaius Agrippa talking right now,” explained Publius Fabius. The Emperor had insisted that Jenkins have an escort around the city, and so Fabius found his way into an “important” ambassador position.
Jenkins looked down at the man at the podium. Short, yet imposing, Agrippa seemed to have the full attention of the Senate. His voice rose and fell with vigor, becoming more and more absorbed in his words. Of course, Latin class was never required at the Naval Academy, so Fabius began to translate.
“…major economic opportunity. We have the world at our hands, with the tools of the next generation in hand. Rome was destined to rule the world, and so we must continue that dream… well, that’s anything important he might have to say.”
“Well someone is enjoying this. Of course, the British Empire is destined to rule the world. We have a saying that we have the empire on which the sun never sets.” Jenkins smiled at this idea, then continued.
“Does he truly think that the world would so easily bow to the demands of a small country like this one? It is of no matter, of course. As the Arrow War has proven, those unwilling to deal on our terms face worse.”
“Well, I’ve never heard of such a war, yet I do know that Agrippa is convinced. He leads the strongest of the factions in the Senate, representing most of the most wealthy individuals on this island. The other important faction is led by Marcus Liberius, who you will also soon hear speak. He represents what many feel is a more cautious ideal.”
“What about those who want to remain isolated?”
“The next biggest, of course. A recently formed faction, they, led by Titus Priscus, have only begun to gain attention as an important group. Remain careful when dealing with them. Some have alluded to shadier dealings at night concerning them. And that Priscus just gives me the chills.”
Jenkins thought on this briefly. Apparently his poor timing had earned him a position as ambassador to the British Empire, and he with what the Emperor had told him, he could only wonder as to his role in this unraveling puzzle.
“AND YOU, Captain Jenkins!” Fabius cried, in clear English. He pointed up directly at his unaware target. “What can you tell the outside world? What do you think we should do?” With a smile on his face, Fabius gestured for Jenkins to come down and take the podium.
Jenkins was mildly shocked.

(Author’s Note: a little short, but a promise is a promise. I realized after reading the previous entries that none of the characters really had much character, and I really didn’t know where I was going with this. I’ve already started writing down more concrete ideas on what’s happening with this, so there’s a good chance that the coming entries will revise some of what’s already presented.
AD, of course, owns my life right now, but after the 24rd, I promise to make a real effort at keeping this going.)

Gold, you say?

“Don’t worry about any of the proper formalities. The Emperor is a very pleasant man, and understands that your culture embraces matters like this differently,” Tiberius whispered into Jenkins’s ear. They stood in the waiting room of the apparent Capitol building, where, within, the Emperor reigned over the city-state.
Presently, the guards gestured the party inside. Jenkins took a deep breath and quietly strode into the reception hall. He inconspiciously considered the architecture around him; it struck him as quite Roman. Well, as much as almost 2 millenia can maintain style. The columns of shining white stone immediately caught his attention, though he, without much experience in Roman culture, couldn’t discern any details of significance. He thought about where these people had gotten the stone, marking it as a question for later.
“Greetings, esteemed guest. It’s not every year that a man from a land as civilized as England graces our island,” called the Emperor before him. His appearance momentarily surprised the Captain, as after Tiberius’s classic Roman legionnaire armor, he had assumed that styles had not changed much, yet the Emperor appeared to be wearing a typical suit, with a stark black blazer, and a tie. The Emperor smiled kindly as Jenkins approached, then pushed several papers off to the side of his desk, another unusual object for a reception hall.
“Greetings to you, Emperor. My name is William Jenkins, and I am the captain of the Hind. Jeffrey Fry on my left is my second officer,” accompanied by a bow from named person, “and it has been a pleasure so far. Optio Tiberius has only been perfectly kind in his presentation and help, except for the bullet that almost ended my visit too soon.”
The Emperor laughed, pushing up from his chair to reach across his desk to shake Jenkins’s hand. “I’m glad it has been so. Perhaps you’d like a tour of the gardens of the residence here?”

“I’m sure that Tiberius has given you a brief history of our island here, and your presence is ever so timely. Currently, the Senate is dining, but when they return to session, I’m sure many would appreciate your input. In the mean time, I shall be your host.”
Jenkins had left the rest of his landing party in the hands of Tiberius who promised a place to eat lunch and rest. Meanwhile, the two of them strolled around the gardens, where Jenkins half listened, and half marveled in the flora that they had cultivated.
“Atlantis has been the haven of the Modern Roman Empire for many years now, and while visitors, such as yourself are not frequent, they have been moreso. In addition, with the knowledge we’ve gained from such people, we believe it might be time to end our isolation.
“Our advancement and standard of living are apparently almost unparalleled in the rest of the world, to be frank. In our seclusion, we’ve made incredible progress, and created a sort of utopia here. Unfortunately, humans are greedy. You can give a man a handful of beans, and he will ask for two. You can give him two, and he’ll ask for as much as he can carry at once. You can give him that much, and he will ask for pockets. As such, the youth have become restless, eager to explore the rest of the world and become exposed to other influences, good or bad.”
“That’s not a surprise,” interjected Jenkins. “In my experience, the youth are always want change the most.”
“Naturally. Unfortunately, when people go out, it also means that people come in. Reciprocality is the prime method of establish great relations, but having researched your history, I can see there being possible trouble.” The Emperor stopped, and Jenkins followed, who found himself under the gaze of the Emperor.
“You see, I recently heard of the advances of the British Empire in the field of ether. Particularly, they discovered the secret of etheric shock, and might soon develop weapons capable of harnessing such energy.” The Emperor looked concerned at this proposition, and paused.
“I was there,” Jenkins added in, attempting to avoid such awkward silence. “I watched the cannon destroy a sailboat as almost nothing.”
The Emperor sighed. “I guess it was inevitable. See, here on Atlantis, we’ve known this secret for centuries. Using the properties of ether, we’ve managed to develop technology you cannot even fathom. This, however, has been mostly due to a particular abundance of a substance with unusual properties, capable of piercing the normal bounds between etheric matter and normal matter. X, we like to call it, so translated to your English alphabet. And like every other resource, people will vie for control of it; like iron was to the Persians, this alone may give one country the edge over any other, a path towards the eternal goal: greed. Greed of power.”
“And man will kill to have the ability to kill more,” completed Jenkins.

(Author’s Note: I really hope that all made sense.)

Myths made real

Jenkins laughed.

“Okay, I’ve heard every old pirate legend, and they’re all false, and I’ve heard a million old wives’ tales through the empire, but telling me that YOU’RE a real Roman, and that I’m on an island that Plato made up as complete horse manure…” He stopped laughing for a second, and took a solid look straight into Tiberius’s eyes. Then fell on the ground and laughed again.
“I can understand your incredulity, but I must insist that you take this seriously,” Tiberius said, using his rifle as a crutch while looking down at Jenkins’ hysterical form. “Perhaps, you’d like to come with me to our city, where hopefully everything will be explained.”
“I’ll come,” Jenkins worked out between laughs, getting up with the help of his crewmen. “But you’ve got a lot of explaining to do.”

“As you’ve likely gathered from our dress, and, if you’ve decided to believe what I told you, we are sons of Romulus and Remus.” Tiberius led the group through the forest, occasionally pushing a branch aside, and always taking glances back at his visitors. “During the reign of Augustus, a group of dissidents unhappy with the way the Empire was being controlled decided to break away. Unfortunately, they knew their only sanctuary lay with Brittania. So, a group of 432, including women and children, took several ships into the Mediterranean, hoping to sail around to your homeland.
“Well, a couple navigational mistakes later, they ended up in the mid-Atlantic, with supplies running low, when they saw this island you currently stand on. In honor of Plato’s works, they named it Atlantis, and built a civilization here, decided to maintain complete isolation from the outside world forever, in what is basically a paradise on this island.”
“I’ll take it that that hasn’t happened,” Jenkins interrupted, “as we’ve had several missing ships in the area, and your English and French are absolutely impeccable.”
Tiberius seemed to pause for a moment, perhaps in admiration of Jenkins’ perceptiveness. He dismissed it quickly and moved on with his tale. “Of course. Well, apparently the world has taken strides in technology, and there have been many marine vessels passing by. In order to maintain perfect isolation, however, we have had to essentially keep them captive on the island. We treat them well, of course, as they live as any other citizen would, and enjoy the same opportunities. Many have even integrated themselves into important positions in our society. And as you noticed, we’ve come to exchange knowledge, including languages.”
“This doesn’t mean we’re captives as well, does it? I’m a privateer, and my job requires that I never stay in one place too long.”
“Fortunately for you, there has been some debate within our society over our isolation, obviously instigated by our youth. Your timing could not have been more perfect, for the Senate is actually going to vote on the issue soon. But perhaps it would be best if I let them talk for themselves.” Tiberius pushed several more branches out of the way, and Jenkins looked through, where he saw a gleaming city beneath him. “Let me also welcome you to the city of New Rome.”
Tiberius thought for another moment and added, “Creative, right?”

Friendly Welcome

Jenkins had never seen an island quite like this. Then again, he lived his life at the sea, with an occasional trip to port. Privateers of this age had no time for finding and burying treasures on remote islands, or having a hidden fortress in the Caribbean.
“So, what exactly are we looking for, Captain?” asked one of his seamen. “We’re here, there’s an island. Survivors?”
“Buried treasure!” cried out another, eyes glistening with the thought of riches. Well, most privateers these days didn’t care about those things, though Jenkins.
“Survivors would be our most substantial evidence. We’ll need to chart this entire island and claim it for the Empire, however.” Jenkins led the pack as they climbed up the beach. With the sun directly above, he squinted to make out the trees ahead. He scanned the area, looking back and forth, then picking an arbitrary direction to wander in. He and his men strode on forward, guns in hand, and supplies on back.
“Tuez-les!” they heard someone cry. With barely enough time to find the source, they dropped to the ground as bullets tore through the air above them.
“Sir, we have no cover here on the beach! The damn French are going to get us!”
Jenkins tried to focus on the moment, ignoring the pessimism of his crewman. Without alternative he yelled out the first thing to mind.
“Don’t shoot! We mean you no harm!” He took a wild shot with his Enfield, hoping he was pointing in even the vicinity of his attackers. Putting his last wishes out to whatever higher being he didn’t believe in. He closed his eyes tightly. His companions told him it hurt less that way.
The shooting sounds stopped, and he opened his eyes to a bright, bright light. He looked over to his left, where Fry lay, also a bit confused.
“This isn’t bad. I’ll admit, a beach isn’t a bad place for heaven, even if it’s not what I’d expected.” He sat up, seeing his other crewmen lying on the sand, as well. He looked behind himself, slowly reacquainting himself with his life. Several figures in white began to walk towards him. Oddly enough, they had no halos, and they had enfields in hand as well. He considered this for a moment, then chuckled when he considered his luck. Perhaps death had given him a raincheck.
“Greetings, my friend,” cried out the lead figure in a deep voice. He had dark hair, and a light complexion, and extremely good English. “I’m sorry for that minor misunderstanding. The last ship that pulled up dropped off a bunch of dirty Americans; the French act gave them quite the scare.” Several of the men behind him laughed quietly, as he reached to help Jenkins up.
“Well, I’m glad that was resolved quickly. My name is William Jenkins, naval officer in the service of the British Empire. Might I ask where in the world you came from?” He considered reaching out his hand, then simply shook witht he hand helping him up.
“Of course, as is customary. I’m Tiberius, an optio in the service of the Modern Roman Empire, and welcome to the island of Atlantis.”

Nice Little Island, You’ve Got Here

“Captain, are you sure you want to send a landing party already? We haven’t even scouted out the size of this island, and barely the area.” McKidd struggled to keep up with Jenkins, who hastily ran about the ship, checking on preparations for the landing party.
“Of course.” He grabbed an Enfield off the shelf, looking at it, then pointing it directly at McKidd, who took a step back, gulped, then froze as the muzzle came up to in front of his nose. “This is an incredible opportunity,” he explained, looking at his first mate through one eye, down the length of the barrel. “I can’t imagine we’ll learn much more by floating around out here. The sooner we figure out what’s going on, the sooner we can get off of this assignment.” He set the rifle down, then continued on around his ship.
“Well, I, sir, am not one to disagree with you when you’ve made up your mind. You’ve proven more than stubborn in the past. I assume you’ll want me to assume command of the ship?”
“I’d hope for no one less competent. In a weeks time, I’ll meet you here again. In the meantime, perhaps you’ll take the opportunity to scout the island, as you wished.” Jenkins, apparently satisfied, lept into the row boat below, almost ready with a complement of 5 other seamen.
“Will do. Good hunting, Captain.”

(Author’s Note: Sorry I didn’t post sooner. My internet’s been busted for the past week. Regardless, I’m back, though with another cheesy entry. I swear, it’ll go somewhere in the next entry, which will hopefully be tomorrow, barring unusual circumstance. No band = more free time.)

Great Blue Unknown

“I don’t like this, Captain. He sends us on an ambiguous journey into the middle of the ocean where ships have been lost, and expects a bunch of privateers to do his bidding. I think he’s trying to off us,” finished McKidd. He had been Jenkins’ first mate since the Hind had been in the service of the Royal Navy.
Jenkins looked up from his charts for a moment to get a read from his first mate standing in front of his desk. He grunted, then went back to his charts. After a minute, he broke the silence.
“You know I’m just as concerned as you are. Unfortunately, we’re in a danger business. If we don’t follow orders, we’re as good as dead. You know that our relationship with the Royal Navy is of convenience, and they’d just as soon sink us if we no longer were of use to them. And so, where the Admiral points, we go. Besides, this could be interesting. I’m inclined to believe these reports of land are true, and if so, there are two possibilities. One, we face a danger and experience unlike many have experience, and either die in perhaps the greatest adventure of our life, or live to tell tales of our exploits for years.” He thought about this for a moment, then regained his focus on charting out the ship’s path.
“And the second?”
Jenkins smiled at the idea. “Either they can’t come back, or they don’t want to come back. Perhaps we find a paradise unlike any man has ever seen, one that no man will dare leave. In that case, we’re in good shape.”
“I wish I had your optimism, sir.” He stood in silence for awhile longer. “Regardless, we should be there on schedule.”
“Excellent. You are dismissed.”

(Author’s Note: Sorry, short entry. I have to do some research. Ugh. I’ll be back, and if it ever takes me more than 2 weeks to post, harrass me and I’ll keep going. I might need some prodding when school begins. And comments are good.)

We’re Back, kids!

“In this great year of 1870, under her majesty, Queen Victoria, the Royal Navy introduces a new design, a new level in naval ships. We present, the HMS Devastation!” The crowd erupted in applause at the words of the announcer, looking at the marvel sitting in dock.
“A capital ship unlike any before, this ironclad possesses one of the greatest inventions by our own British researchers: the etheric shock cannon!” The crowd suddenly silenced, eagerly awaiting more details. The tabloids had been running rumors for weeks about this new weapon designed, and it so appeared to be well worth the wait.
“Just as there is the so-called ‘sound barrier’, there is also the so-called ‘light barrier’. We have proven the former to be just a hurdle, and through exhaustive studies, so has the latter. Without overly complicated explanation, we can accelerate beyond this ‘barrier’, disrupting the ‘ether’ of our universe, creating an electric current highly disruptive to anything in its path. I guess the French might say this is a pain in the ‘berriere’.” This comment elicited a quiet laugh from the crowd, which closely followed every one of his words.
“But words cannot explain it nearly as well as action. So, we shall watch the etheric cannon destroy an old sailboat. Please look out to your left.” The crowd followed the announcer’s hand, looking out to a small sailboat several hundred meters away. The Devastation slowly swiveled its cannon, with a thin squeaking sound. The cannon abruptly stopped, when a slow charging sound began.
The anxiety of the crowd grew with the noise, knowing that whatever was to happen, history would be made. The sound became higher and higher pitched, when it suddenly stopped.
The crowd kept their eyes fixed on the sailboat for several more seconds, until a couple glanced over at the Devastation. Several chuckled, amused at the failed demonstration.
Suddenly, a loud crack came from the Devastation, sending it rocking back and forth in the port. But no one was watching it, as even those suprised and scared couldn’t pull their eyes away from the sailboat, now shattered into a thousand pieces.

“Nice little show, Admiral,” commented Captain Jenkins, leaning against a pole, looking out at the sea.
“How did you know it was me?” came the reply from behind, as a British naval officer stepped in beside Jenkins. Jenkins took no noticable notice of Rear Admiral William’s presence, with his eyes still fixed on the now garbage slowly floating in towards shore.
“It would’ve been yours, you know,” William’s mentioned, after several moments of silence, “but imagine how it would reflect on the Empire if the research we were doing suddenly ended up in the hands of a pirate.”
“Privateer, my good man,” Jenkins corrected, “even if those stuffy bureaucrats in Paris so many years back disagree. And I understand. Some connections best remain… informal.”
“To be sure. I’m sure we can arrange for you to ‘capture’ one soon enough. Meanwhile, we have another assignment for you. And it’s not harrassing American merchants.”
“How sad. I was beginning to enjoy the sniveling of those pitiful seamen,” he said with a dry sarcasm. The crew of the Hind had been taking out American vessels for the past couple months and was eager for a new assignment.
“This one may strike you as a bit unusual,” he began, hoping to grab the attention he had not yet been respectfully paid. “Several ships have been lost in the southern Atlantic, as you likely know, almost directly between Bermuda and the Ivory Coast. I know that investigation is not your sort of work, but frankly, I can’t justify sending out more of the royal navy.”
“What would you tell their mothers?”
“Exactly. But there’s more,” he said, suddenly lowering his voice. “Britain’s best have been analyzing information from the region, and according to waves and tidal activity, it seems as though there is a landmass in that area, never before found.”
“Not surprising. We’re finding new little islands in the East Indies all the time,” Jenkins replied nonchalantly. He had learned that the less the Admiral thought he cared, the more he would be paid.
“Oh no, much larger than that. Frankly, I’m shocked that no one has reported it. We’re talking about a land mass as large as the United Kingdom itself.”

(Author’s Note: please comment. Don’t want to start out on the wrong foot.)